May 12, 2016

Sens. Warner, Kaine Applaud Senate Passage of Bipartisan Legislation to Invest in Virginia Infrastructure and Research

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded Senate passage of the Fiscal Year 2017 Energy and Water Development funding legislation, by a bipartisan vote of 90-8. The first of 12 appropriations bills providing discretionary funding for the federal government, the bill provides funding for projects under the direction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation at the Department of the Interior, the Department of Energy, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

“I’m very pleased that the Senate worked together in a bipartisan way to pass the Energy and Water Development funding legislation, and that it was free from unrelated policy riders. This legislation makes important investments in Virginia, including several infrastructure projects in Hampton Roads, and increased funding for the Appalachian Regional Commission. We must continue to put politics aside and pass the other appropriations bills through regular order, to provide much-needed budgetary certainty,” Sen. Warner said. “Senator Kaine and I will continue to fight to ensure that Virginia priorities are included in the remaining funding bills.”

“Today the Senate passed an Energy & Water Appropriations bill containing key projects important to Virginia’s economy,” said Sen. Kaine. “Senator Warner and I successfully included several Virginia priorities in this bill – a new Route 17 bridge at Deep Creek in Chesapeake that will relieve a major traffic bottleneck; new federal investments in the Port of Virginia and Norfolk Harbor channel deepening; steps to secure federal funding for Norfolk municipal flood control infrastructure, and support for the Appalachian Regional Commission’s investments in Southwest Virginia. I urge our colleagues in the House to swiftly pass their version of this appropriations bill so we can conference the legislation and get it enacted into law.”

The following list includes many of the provisions Sens. Warner and Kaine advocated for on behalf of Virginia that were included in the appropriations bill:

Deep Creek Bridge – Chesapeake, VA: The bill includes $12 million to replace this two-lane bridge which carries the four-lane Route 17 Business over the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. The current bridge, constructed in 1934, is functionally obsolete and is a daily traffic bottleneck that does not permit emergency vehicles to cross even though the road is a key hurricane evacuation route. Warner and Kaine were instrumental in securing $10 million for this project in FY 2016, which, combined with the money in this bill and contributions from the Commonwealth of Virginia and the City of Chesapeake, will fund the project to near-completion.

Norfolk Harbor and Port of Virginia: The bill includes $10.3 million for the maintenance of Norfolk Harbor, as well as funds to complete the study phase of dredging the Harbor to its fully authorized depth of 55 feet, which will keep the Port of Virginia ahead of other East Coast ports in ability to accommodate the largest post-Panamax cargo vessels. The bill also provides $50 million for donor and energy transfer ports, from which the Port of Virginia could receive $5 million. Finally, the bill increases the top-line Army Corps of Engineers construction account by some 40 percent above the amount requested by the President. This increases the pool of funding available to ongoing infrastructure projects around the nation such as the Craney Island Eastward Expansion, which will expand the dredge fill facility at Craney Island and construct a new container terminal on the site, nearly doubling the cargo capacity of the Port of Virginia. Warner and Kaine, as well as bipartisan House members from Hampton Roads, have written directly to the President advocating support for this project.

Norfolk Resiliency: The bill includes $575,000 for the City of Norfolk for analysis of municipal flood control needs. As a coastal city that floods regularly during normal storms and is projected to be at higher future risk due to sea level rise, Norfolk was one of nine focus areas identified in an Army Corps study of flood control needs along the Atlantic coast from Virginia to Maine. This study money will make the City eligible for future federally-funded flood control infrastructure. Norfolk has also been recognized for its innovative resilience work through a $121 million federal award from the National Disaster Resilience Competition, as well as by the Rockefeller Foundation in its worldwide 100 Resilient Cities program.

Appalachian Regional Commission: The bill funds the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) at $151 million, a $5 million increase over FY 2016. Sens. Warner and Kaine opposed a floor amendment that sought to eliminate ARC’s funding, citing ARC’s role in promoting infrastructure, education, and job creation in Appalachia, as well as its success in leveraging ten times as much private funding and reducing high-poverty counties in Appalachia by two-thirds since 1960.

Jefferson Lab: The bill includes $635.7 million in funding for the three Department of Energy nuclear physics national laboratories, including Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News.

DATA Act Implementation: In May 2014, President Obama signed Sen. Warner’s bipartisan legislation to standardize federal spending data and ensure it is made available online. The bill fully funds the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s requests for DATA Act implementation.

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